New Nature Study Confirms: Natural Gas Alone Can’t Solve Global Warming

President Obama says we can use natural gas to help solve the climate crisis. Multiple scientists say otherwise.

The arguments have been made over and over again. Yes, natural gas burns much cleaner than coal and diesel, but there is such a high rate of methane leakage from natural gas operations that, in some cases, the climate change benefits of using natural gas are negligible. Natural gas is abundant and cheap, but those very qualities are projected to cause people to use more electricity, therefore burning more carbon-based fuel. If natural gas were replacing only coal, that might be okay — but scientists note that cheap natural gas discourages competition from companies that produce solar and wind power, which are much better alternatives when it comes to fighting climate change.

None of those arguments are news. What is news is a new study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday that basically confirms all those things: That natural gas-focused policies will prevent renewable energy deployment; will cause people to use more electricity; and will cause more leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The only way natural gas can help combat climate change, the study says, is if there are policies in place to prevent those secondary effects.

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